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Twitter Mailbag: You asked about the bullpen, Jake Latz, LSU’s use of tight ends and more

Austin Bain is the talk of the town. (HEATHER MCCLELLAND)

Austin Bain is the talk of the town. (HEATHER MCCLELLAND)

Twitter Mailbag is a blog series running each Tuesday answering readers’ questions about the LSU football team. Readers submit their questions through Twitter each Tuesday, and the best are posted here with answers. Follow us on Twitter at @DellengerAdv to submit a question.

Well, he has the No. 3 starter spot for now. Austin Bain was elevated to that role this week. Here’s more on that.

Now, does he keep that role? That all depends on how he and Jake Godfrey pitch. Bain will be given the ball Sunday, and Godfrey is being given the ball in the midweek on Wednesday. Throw in midweek guy Russell Reynolds and LSU has three pitchers – Reynolds, Godfrey and Bain – potentially capable to be the No. 3 and No. 4 starters.

Bain has the inside track on the No. 3 job, seeing as he’s in it for now. You would think that Godfrey has the best chance to be LSU’s No. 4 starter, but who knows.

Not sure on this. But his switch isn’t rumored. Coach Les Miles has said that Voorhies has moved from defensive back to linebacker. I would imagine he has or will have to gain weight for the switch, but not too much.

LSU’s outside linebackers have similar builds to safeties anyway. It’s a fairly natural switch.

Redshirts are for players who plan to play on a team for five years. When’s the last LSU baseball player who did that? The point is – it doesn’t happen often, especially for highly touted guys like Latz. Mainieri said that at the bottom of this notebook.

Latz turned down nearly $1 million to come to college. He’s likely a guy who will be entering the MLB draft after his junior season or, at the latest, his senior year.

I assume you’re talking about tight end receptions? DeSean Smith had four catches for 66 yards in LSU’s bowl game. That’s a good sign of things to come from the position, but don’t get your hopes up.

LSU’s receiving group is about as deep and talented as it gets. I’m sure the focus is on getting the ball into their hands and into the hands of some pretty skilled running backs who can go out for passes – Leonard Fournette, Derrius Guice.

Still, Anthony Jennings and Smith seemed to develop a good connection in that game against the Irish. OC Cam Cameron clearly saw an area to exploit against Notre Dame and that was it.

Donte Jackson and Arden Key are my favorites.

Jackson, who will primarily play cornerback, has the potential to make an immediate impact in the return game for LSU – and in a lot of other areas. LSU coach Les Miles said at signing day that Jackson can do it all – catch the ball, run the ball, return the ball and be a lock down corner.

Key, a highly touted defensive end product from Georgia, could see time immediately at LSU’s defensive end competition. The Tigers lost both starting ends from last season, and it’s unclear how comfortable coaches are with their current guys: Tashawn Bower, Deondre Clark, Sione Teuehema, Lewis Neal.

That’s a start. LSU’s pen has been exhausted recently. The Tigers have played six extra inning games in the last 15. That’s a good recipe to wear down your bullpen.

Also, former No. 3 starter Jake Godfrey has lasted just 0.1 and 1.2 innings in his last two weekend starts. That doesn’t help the bullpen either. LSU has had to patch together those games with a host of relievers, leaving them in a bind come the midweek.

Nope. It sounds as if Valentine is under academic suspension from the team, though that term hasn’t been used. Les Miles said here that Valentine has “failed to do” some things academically.

Twitter Mailbag: You asked about Alex Lange, the QB battle, Leonard Fournette and more

Alex Lange will remain the Tigers' No. 2 pitcher - for now. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Alex Lange will remain the Tigers’ No. 2 pitcher – for now. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Twitter Mailbag is a blog series running each Tuesday answering readers’ questions about the LSU football team. Readers submit their questions through Twitter each Tuesday, and the best are posted here with answers. Follow us on Twitter at @DellengerAdv to submit a question.

It’s tough to answer the first question, given the fact that reporters are allowed to view just 10-20 minutes of practice . I’m not sure anyone has the edge, honestly.

Les Miles, it appears, is spreading around the love – one week praising Brandon Harris and the next praising Anthony Jennings. Given that Jennings started 12 of the 13 games last season, the junior might have “the edge,” but I do believe coaches hope Harris can make enough leaps mentally to win the job.

It’s hard to say how fewer wins LSU would have without SS Alex Bregman, but it would, indeed, be fewer. And that’s just considering his defense. Bregman is a hit stealer. I’m guessing that he’s stolen 15-20 hits this season. The guy has made one error in 29 games. He’s played the last 26 without committing an error.

Take his two plays in the win over UL-Lafayette: caught a hard lineout, flipped it to second for an inning-ending DP with the bases loaded; turned a DP in the ninth inning by himself.

No. At least not yet. It appears that this will happen at some point this season – that Lange will move into the No. 1 role. The guy leads the SEC in ERA. He’s got a fastball that touches 95 and a curveball that hits 86-87 mph – one that Mainieri calls “big league.”

However, the coach is hesitant to move him into such a crucial role so early in his freshman season. The timing isn’t right, Mainieri said again earlier this week.

So when will it be right? By guess is in two to four weeks.

Malachi Dupre, Travin Dural, Trey Quinn. D.J. Chark appears to be making movement and don’t forget about John Diarse.

No matter who starts, LSU is deep and talented at receiver.

See two answers above.

Over. I think 1,200 yards is a fair over/under. That’s about what I would have put it at – maybe 1,300. Another year of experience means more maturity, knowledge, etc. If he had 1,034 yards as a freshman, he can hit the 1,300-mark this season, if not much more.

Remember last year that coaches didn’t begin feeding him the ball regularly until halfway through the season. More on that here.

I think Mainieri and the staff hope Latz – out until at least May recovering from an elbow injury – will develop into a Chad Jones-type player.

Jones left the 2009 LSU baseball team for spring football practice and returned late in the season. The lefty, like Latz, had a 2.70 ERA in 6.2 innings down the stretch, helping the Tigers to the 2009 national title.

Hate to the be bearer of bad news but …

Foster is a senior. So, he’s gone. And, at the rate he’s hitting (.330, 7 homers), will be a mid-to-high draft pick.

Mainieri expects to lose the three others – Laird, Bregman and Stevenson – along with Chris Chinea. He’s expecting all four to leave early for pro ball. Will they? Probably not. There’s a good possibility that three of four of them will, though.

Bregman is a lock to leave early. Stevenson and Laird are both having great seasons, too.

Spring Practice Observations, Day 11: Big Cat and ball security

Tuesday marked Day 11 of LSU spring practice, the Tigers’ second-to-last workout before spring break.

The Tigers worked out in shoulder pads, helmets and short pants under warm, sunny skies at the Charles McClendon Football Practice Facility.

After a brief warm up in position groups, the Tigers gathered for their regular Big Cat drill. A matchup between improving sophomore wide receiver D.J. Chark and sophomore cornerback Ed Paris drew an, “Oooooh!” from LSU coach Les Miles.

At first, middle linebacker Kendell Beckwith playfully stepped in to square off with Chark. After Miles waved him off, Paris took his stance. He and Chark battled to a standoff, after which Paris leaped up and kicked the air with delight.

Only a few more minutes of individual practice drills were open to the media. Quarterbacks worked on ball security drills, as players tried to tug the ball out of each other’s grasp. Wide receivers worked on agility drills as they navigated an obstacle course of pads under the watch of new position coach Tony Ball.

The Tigers will practice again Thursday before taking a 12-day break. LSU will have two more practice sessions before the annual Spring Game, April 18 in Tiger Stadium.

2015 LSU Pro Day Recap

With the 2015 NFL Draft fast approaching, 23  former LSU players had one final opportunity to showcase their skills at Pro Day on Saturday.

Photos:

 

Videos:

Spring Practice Observations, Day 9: Malone, Thomas in green; Big Cat drill

brightcove

Reporters were allowed into LSU’s ninth practice of the spring for just a short period Thursday.

Offensive lineman K.J. Malone (unknown) was in a green non-contact jersey during drills, and cornerback Dwayne Thomas (knee surgery) also remained in a green non-contact jersey. Safety Corey Thompson continued to be a no-show at practice.

The Big Cat Drill at Thursday's practice.

The Big Cat Drill at Thursday’s practice. (click to enlarge)

Several former LSU players were spotted at practice – pro day is Friday – including left tackle La’el Collins and center Elliott Porter.

Meanwhile, Lewis Neal was participating with the first string. Deondre Clark was with the third group at defensive end.

As usual, LSU players battled each other in the Big Cat Drill (videos below) and you’ll see above a video of LSU DL coach Ed Orgeron conducting drills with his defensive linemen.

Of note: LSU’s spring game on April 18 will kick off at 2 p.m. and be available on SEC Network plus.

  • CB Ed Paris vs. WR D.J. Chark (TIE)

  • LB Devin Voorhies vs. FB John David Moore (WIN)
  • CB Kevin Toliver II vs. WR Travin Dural (WIN)

  • LB Clifton Garrett (WIN) vs. TE Jacory Washington
  • LB Donnie Alexander (WIN) vs. ?
  • LB Lamar Louis vs. FB David Ducre (TIE)

  • DT Greg Gilmore vs. OL Josh Boutte (TIE)
  • DT Trey Lealaimatafao vs. OL Andy Dodd (TIE)
  • DE Sione Teuhema (WIN) vs. OL Jonah Austin

Spring Practice Observations, Day 8: Big Cat and blue skies

The LSU football team went through Day 8 of spring practice Tuesday, putting the Tigers just over the halfway point of this year’s 15-day spring practice schedule.

The Tigers worked outdoors, greeted by sunny skies and mild temperatures as they practiced in shoulder pads, helmets and shorts.

The afternoon session started as usual with the Big Cat drill, the one-on-one wrestling matches between offensive and defensive players.

In the Big Cat, tight end Dillon Gordon beat defensive end Sione Teuhema, while middle linebacker Kendell Beckwith and fullback Tony Upchurch, a redshirt freshman, battled to a draw.

Sophomore wide receiver Trey Quinn got handled in his Big Cat drill but came back and plowed through a blocker moments later before the team broke up for individual position drills.

Spring practice runs through April 18 when LSU hosts its annual Spring Game in Tiger Stadium.

Spring Practice Observations, Day 5: Clark returns to practice; Big Cat Drill

Defensive end Deondre Clark returned to practice after missing the last three days of drills with an eye injury, and safety Corey Thompson was not participating in drills.

LSU had its fifth of 15 spring practices on Tuesday, and, yes, it included the famous Big Cat Drill. Videos of the drills are below, but, first, the news:

  • Clark was poked in the eye last week and missed practices last Tuesday and Thursday and Saturday’s scrimmage. He was dressed out and participating with players during Tuesday’s drills.
  • Thompson attended practice in his jersey but without pads. He did not participate as he continues to recover from lingering knee problems. He had ACL surgery more than a year ago and had another small procedure recently.
  • Cornerback Tre’Davious White and receivers Trey Quinn and D.J. Chark were at least three of a host of players returning punts.

Big Cat Drill

  • OL Jerald Hawkins (WIN) vs. DE Deondre Clark
  • C Ethan Pcoci vs. DE Tashawn Bower

  • OL K.J. Malone vs. DT Greg Gilmore (WIN)

  • TE Hanner Shipley vs. DE Sione Teuhema (WIN)
  • TE DeSean Smith vs. LB Kendell Beckwith (WIN)

  • FB Tony Upchurch vs. LB Devin Voorhies (TIE)
  • WR Travin Dural (WIN) vs. S Jalen Mills

  • WR Malachi Dupre vs. S Jamal Adams (TIE)
  • WR John Diarse (WIN) vs. CB Kevin Toliver II
  • WR Trey Quinn vs. DB Russell Gage (WIN)

Brandon Harris tosses pass to WR D.J. Chark in LSU scrimmage, video shows

Harris

Another video has emerged from LSU’s scrimmage on Saturday at Tiger Stadium. And this one’s even better than Kevin Toliver II’s interception.

Video posted on 247Sports – but not filmed by the website – shows rising sophomore quarterback Brandon Harris completing a scrambling pass to receiver D.J. Chark for a touchdown.

The Tigers had a 100-play scrimmage on Saturday, and coach Les Miles said Harris had an interception (seen in Toliver’s video) and two touchdowns (one, Miles said, was to Chark). The scrimmage was closed to media and the public. It’s unclear who took the latest video.

Harris is seen in the video (a link to it is below this post) scrambling left and then turning back right and lofting a perfect pass – of about 50 yards – to Chark, who escaped coverage from Toliver and safety Austin Suits. Anthony Jennings is behind the play and so is Miles.

The play looks as if it came while the second string offense went against second string defense.

The offensive line appears to be: LT Jevonte Domon, LG Josh Boutte and C Andy Dodd, It’s unclear who is on the left side of the line. Also for the offense, TE Jacory Washington and RB Darrel Williams are on the field.

The defensive line includes Trey Lealaimatafao, Frank Herron and Sione Teuhema. Also for the defense, LB Duke Riley was on the field.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

Freshman Kevin Toliver II posts interception video from LSU scrimmage

LSU coach Les Miles never told reporters Saturday who got LSU’s only interception of the Tigers’ first spring scrimmage.

It was true freshman Kevin Toliver II.

Toliver, a highly touted signee from Florida, posted a video of the interception on Twitter on Sunday.

The scrimmage was closed to the media and public and no statistics were provided. Miles said Brandon Harris threw the interception, but would not disclose the interceptor.

The coach gave Harris the “edge” Saturday in the first on-field battle of 2015 in the hotly competitive starting quarterback duel between Harris and Anthony Jennings.

In the video, it appears the first-string offense was going against the second string defense. The quarterback under threw the intended receiver, Dural, in the end zone.

Many believe Toliver, a five star prospect, has a chance to to play significantly this season. Here’s a shot of him during practice earlier this week.

photo (26)

Les Miles: Brandon Harris had edge in first spring scrimmage; Leonard Fournette ran for TD

photo (25)Sophomore quarterback Brandon Harris “might” have had the edge in LSU’s first scrimmage of spring practice, and running back Leonard Fournette scored on a long run to open the scrimmage, coach Les Miles said.

The Tigers, in their fourth practice of the spring and first in full pads, conducted a 100-play scrimmage at Tigers Stadium.

Miles said quarterbacks Harris and Anthony Jennings split first team reps “50-50.” While Miles wouldn’t say if one QB played better than the other, Harris appears to have played better. He threw two touchdown passes to Jennings’ one but also threw the one interception.

“I’d have to see the statistics a little bit more,” Miles said. “Might give (Harris) the edge today.”

Fournette scored a touchdown on a “long run to start the scrimmage,” Miles said.

Other highlights:

  • Safety Corey Thompson “should be back soon,” Miles said. Thompson has not practiced this spring as he still has lingering issues from his ACL surgery more than a year ago. The coach suggested that he had a second procedure on the knee recently that wasn’t “significant.”
  • DE Deondre Clark, poked in the eye earlier this week, could have played in the scrimmage Saturday but was held out for precautionary reasons, Miles said.
  • LSU has been rotating its offensive linemen. Ethan Pocic, at center mainly, has been playing some right tackle, and Vadal Alexander, at right tackle, has been then moved to left guard, his position last season. When this happens, Andy Dodd has played center. Basically, sounds like LSU’s offensive line will be one of these two:
  1. LT Hawkins, LG Clapp/Malone, C Pocic, RG Brumfield, RT Alexander
  2. LT Hawkins, LG Alexander, C Dodd, RG Brumfield, RT Pocic
  • Travin Dural, Trey Quinn and D.J. Chark caught the three touchdown passes Saturday, Miles said.
  • Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele has not only been working with linebackers, his position group. He’s working with safeties as well, Miles said. “In a teaching progression, that free safety and Mike (linebacker) have to be on the same page,” Miles said.
  • Miles called the scrimmage “sloppy.” First team got 40 snaps, second got 40 and third team got 20 snaps.  “Penalties slowed drives, alignment mistakes, basic first scrimmage … a lot like our first scrimmages we’ve had in the past.”
  • Miles said the offense’s tempo was faster. Maybe it’s something the Tigers are trying with their offense? “I think our tempo is a little faster. I think our guys enjoy a little faster tempo,” he said. “Quarterbacks are coming and I think the offense is helping them come.”
  • Has LSU changed its offense with regard to audibles? Sounds like it. Miles said an assistant coach “many times” can call a run/pass audible for the quarterback. “It will be interesting to see if it helps him more or hinders him,” Miles said.
  • St. Paddy’s Day is Tuesday. Les Miles won’t be celebrating (LSU has practice), but he will enjoy driving home he said:

I enjoy driving home on St. Paddy’s Day. It appears to be there’s a lot of fun being had on College (Drive). Just driving down the road, it appears there’s a lot of people who wear green accidentally and happen to be very festive, if not belligerent.